I'll be honest. I didn't think that I was going to like a game about fishing. You sit around and do nothing while something rarely happens. But Fishing: Barents Sea kinda made that exciting. You're a commercial fisherman here and it takes it from boring to tycoon game style excitement.
Like I said, you're a fisherman. You start off on a small rundown boat as you traverse the waters off of northern Scandinavia. Just like a tycoon game, you have to start small. And there's not much of a story besides fish, grow make profits. But that's all it needs. As motivation to keep going, it's great. You'll be surprised at how much you want to own bigger boats and to fish better and to find places where they are. It has what it needs here to make it pretty addicting.
This is a 3D game, and it even comes with the option to go first- or third-person. Graphics are surprising good. It's not photo realistic, and the land can get like Google Earth and get all fuzzy, but it it's detailed enough. Your boat even has a small stove you can turn on for example. And when it comes down to it, looking at where fish are with maps that look a lot like weather maps, it's fine. The Norway setting really sells it though. It gives it a special flair, and traveling off the coast with huge rock pillars coming out of the shrouded distance, man, it can look beautiful. That pushed it over the “average” rating for graphics.
This is an open world tycoon game – you don't find these everyday. And Fishing: Barents Sea treats it as such. There's nothing really complicated – find fish, go to fish, put in area you want to drag nets, get said fish, sell. But you need to map them and hope nothing shifts. You need to watch out for hazards. Hell you can even steer the boat. Many parts are point and click, but it takes knowledge that you build up of how to fish best, where to fish and everything that sells it. I have personally never fished in Norway, but what I can tell from documentaries and things, this is pretty accurate, and as such, there's a realism to the gameplay you don't often get. You really want to upgrade to bigger boats, and you can even explore them. It's pretty great.
Controls on the PC (Steam) were fine. Like I said, there's a lot of keyboard and point and click action, but there was a lot of keyboard action. There's a lot of things to do, everything from gutting fish to piloting the boat, but because it's one task at a time, there's not too much to it. No complaints here.
Music and sound are pretty good too. The music is light 80's synth, a favorite of mine, which never comes in heavy. It has that Scandinavian touch of being subdued, so it's very gentle and fits the fishing theme brilliantly. Really fitting. Sounds is fine too – most sounds are natural, frocks all the clicks of the ship to the put-put-put of the motor. Nothing out of place (except for a few noises that are obviously video game now and then). But really, all around good.
I really didn't encounter anything wrong either. The frame rate was good (although, because of the scope of the game, you need a good system so it doesn't get choppy), and I didn't see any glitches. Well, there was some issues in that some objects, like buckets, were obviously supposed to have height, but in 3rd person, you could walk all over them like they were flat. Tiny things like that – not really a glitch, but still noticeable.
Overall, Fishing: Barents Sea was pretty great. A unique location, good music, accuracy to real life and addictive combine to make fishing of all things fun. The tycoon elements only helps its case. There were some faults here and there, but what it does right vastly outweighs that. If you're looking for a unique and fun game, I'd say give it a try. Especially if you like tycoon style games.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.